Sometimes, pardon the expression, it sucks to be an empath and an introvert. For years I’ve been a magnet for other people’s emotions which has caused me lots of confusion and emotional turmoil. And yet, now that I’ve learned to separate my emotional states from current events and the people I’m interacting with, I’m grateful that I have the ability to understand how someone else is feeling. I think we could use more empathy in the world right now.
While I was growing up, I felt like an outsider. For one thing we moved a lot, so I was always the new kid. And then I seemed to feel things more deeply than the other kids about events in the world, about the characters in the stories we read, or history we were studying. I had lots of thoughts and emotions going on in my head and heart, but I learned to keep them to myself to keep from being ridiculed. I wasn’t comfortable with this decision. I longed to be the person who said and did outrageous things and didn’t care what other people thought. But that always came with consequences of being bombarded with their emotions. I wasn’t brave enough to be that vulnerable.
One great thing about getting older, I know that I’m not in charge of how other people react, or respond to the things I say and do. So, I’m using this as a kind of test essay for a book I’ve been thinking about writing for eleven years. I’m finally ready to be outrageous and share some of the things I’ve been thinking about religion, politics, human relationships, and life in general. I’ve kept them locked in my head and heart for so many years, they are bursting to get out. So here goes.
Sunday August 12, Barry and I were watching CBS Sunday Morning, as is our Sunday ritual. This episode had a piece about the German artist, Georg Baselitz, one of the world’s most famous and highly sought after living artists. He grew up during and after WW II, the son of a wounded Nazi soldier, in the rubble of a destroyed landscape. When he became an artist trying to make sense of his topsy turvy world, he eventually turned his paintings upside down as well.
Something Stephan Akin, (not sure that’s spelled correctly), who is curator of the Hershorne Museum, said about Baselitz, “(It) is a sign of his great intellectual honesty, he has struggled, but accepted the fact that he was German. He could never be anything but German …”
That was one of those Wow! moments for me. I’ve lived through so many terrible and great things as an American. As a kid I was proud to be an American, a member of the greatest country on earth. But after years of demonstrations, brutality, scandals and revelations about our government, my pride eroded. As my husband said once, “I’m grateful to be an American, but I’m not always proud.” I’ve struggled to make sense of our real history with so many mistakes, atrocities, triumphs and tragedies. I’ve felt the burden of the genocide and oppression we’ve perpetrated, so much so that at times I wished I could be from some other country. And yet … I’m an American and will never be anything other than an American. Which means I’ve got a responsibility to be part of the self-examination we need to be doing right now.
It’s difficult to face reality. I loved that illusion from childhood that I lived in this open hearted melting pot where we learned from each other and everyone was treated equally. But shattering illusions isn’t always a bad thing.
In my personal life, I had to learn to accept the entirety of who I was, even though I wasn’t perfect and have made many mistakes. As I’ve been able to do that, my life has become more joyful. I interact differently with people than I did when I was younger. I’m now more loving and accepting. One of the spiritual teachers I follow said that the way to heal the world is to heal yourself first. I’m still working on myself, but I’ve made progress, which gives me hope that not only can individuals heal their wounds, but our country and the world can too.
I want to say one more thing that I might normally keep to myself. I’m glad we’ve been knocked off our pedestal as the world leader. Being on a pedestal is an extremely lonely place to be. To quote Bing Crosby’s character in White Christmas after Betty tells him he’s her knight in shining armor, “Well, it’s mighty lonely up there on that charger. A fella’s libel to fall off.”
But falling off can be rewarding. Once we’ve fallen off our pedestal, we find there are lots of people and nations who’ve had similar experiences and not only survived but thrived. We find allies, support groups, and eventually friends we can play and work with.
I long for the day when we act as a global community appreciating each culture and working together to ensure the health and safety of each individual and the planet as a whole.
Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news about the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.